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"Incredible Sense of Anticipation" Ahead of SMM 2022

Published Jul 19, 2022 2:04 PM by SMM Hamburg

SMM is back. From September 6-9, the maritime industry will finally meet face-to-face again in Hamburg. These are the highlights and focal topics on the agenda of the 30th anniversary edition.

Three years and ten months: This is how long it has been since the maritime community gathered in Hamburg for SMM 2018. Last year’s SMM was held as an online event only due to the COVID pandemic. The long wait will finally be over in September.

"The mood in the team is fantastic – we are full of excitement, looking forward to finally opening our doors to the maritime players here at Hamburg Messe from 6 to 9 September!" says Claus Ulrich Selbach, Business Unit Director – Maritime and Technology Fairs & Exhibitions at Hamburg Messe und Congress.

He expects around 2,000 exhibitors and more than 40,000 visitors from over 100 countries. "Nearly 90 percent of exhibition spaces booked at SMM 2018 have already been reserved, and we are receiving more enquiries from potential exhibitors, speakers or sponsors on a daily basis. So we are not the only ones looking forward to the event," he adds.

An industry reinvents itself

The SMM motto “Driving The Maritime Transition” sets the agenda. The 30th SMM will focus on the maritime energy transition, the digital transformation and climate change. This year the organizers of SMM are going the extra mile to highlight the key topics. "For the first time, participants will be able to present their know-how or product novelties on admission-free Transition Stages," says Selbach.

One stage will be dedicated to alternative propulsion systems, environmental technologies and sustainability. Another will focus on automation, digitalization and data management. The third stage will address interior design, outfitting and technologies for passenger ships as well as challenges and opportunities facing the cruise industry. "Following the speeches and presentations, we will invite our visitors to attend our new networking format ‘Wine o'clock', an ideal opportunity for them to share thoughts and views in a relaxed atmosphere,” says Selbach. SMM has even extended the opening hours to make this possible. "This way there will be more time for networking."

Digital transformation onboard

No doubt the conferences, featuring top-ranking speakers, will provide plenty to talk about. For example, at the Maritime Future Summit Donya-Florence Amer, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Hapag-Lloyd, will share some insights into the shipping company’s digital strategy. From ship design to ship management, and from the bridge to the engine room and the cargo hold, digitalization is finding its way into all aspects of ship operation.

At the Maritime Future Summit, Sean Fernback, CEO of Wärtsilä Voyage, will discuss how the digital transformation can unlock the full potential of shipping. "The maritime world is entering the digital era where mutualising our investments into common platforms and standards is a prerequisite to successful innovations for a more sustainable and efficient maritime industry,” says Fernback.

Cooperation is crucial

A spirit of cooperation is necessary when addressing the zero emission goal, the most important mission of the century. The shipping industry wants to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO Maritime at the ship classification society DNV, believes there will be more than one alternative fuel. The shipping world cannot wait for the perfect solution, says Ørbeck-Nilssen. Rather, it needs to start the transition right now. "We have to adopt a spirit of cooperation to tackle common challenges such as safety, fuel availability and costs – we can only be successful by working together."

At gmec, the global maritime environmental congress, experts will explore the pros and cons of various alternative fuels. They will be joined by the German Federal Maritime Coordinator, Claudia Müller (Green Party). "Is the industry really doing enough to decarbonize? Or could it do more?" A question that will be at issue when experts such as Sönke Diesener from the environmental organization Nabu meet up with industry leaders like BIMCO Vice Secretary General Lars Robert Pedersen. The NGO panel discussion will be open to the general public. "We are doing this give the general public a more active part. This topic affects all of us," says Selbach.

Putting knowledge to work

As the shipping industry strives to become carbon-neutral it will be highly dependent on offshore wind power. "Whether methanol or ammonia, synthetic fuels won’t be truly sustainable until they are based on 'green' hydrogen produced with renewable energy,” says Selbach. Wind energy is currently seeing massive investment, both on land and at sea, not least to achieve independence from Russian natural gas as quickly as possible. At the same time it is important to minimize the ecological impact from wind power. At the Offshore Dialogue experts will explain how this can be accomplished.

When trying to assess the world's climate and the health of the oceans, scientists focus on the Arctic, a region affected by climate change especially severely: It is heating three times faster than the world average. To obtain concrete data, scientists must use specialized ships which have to fight their way through thick sea ice. Lasse Rabenstein and his start-up Drift + Noise help expedition teams do so successfully. At the Offshore Dialogue, the co-founder will introduce IcySea, a sea ice information app, and speak about the increasing number of ice-free days in Arctic waters where ship traffic through the Northwest passage is likely to intensify in future years.

Defending values

Participants of the International Conference on Maritime Security and Defence (MS&D) will look at the world's oceans from a security perspective. As the current international situation shows, global trade is increasingly exposed to risks. The protection of sea routes for international commercial shipping is the subject of the keynote presented by Dr. Martin Kröger, Managing Director of the German Shipowners Association (VDR), at the beginning of MS&D. General (retd.) Egon Ramms, former Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command and one of the highest-ranking German officers in NATO, will outline the political and military lessons to be learned from the Ukraine war to date. What is more: Is China the next aggressor, waiting to take action in the southern Pacific?

Many urgent topics are on the agenda of this SMM, and all will be addressed specifically by exhibitors in the halls. Meanwhile, the SMM community continues to grow. Apart from well-established market leaders, the leading international maritime trade fair keeps attracting new firms. There is a new format for new players at SMM in cooperation with Maritime Startups Germany.

"Start-up companies will introduce themselves and present their projects in pitches and compete against each other for the best new idea. The winning start-up with the most compelling idea will receive the Maritime Start-Up Award on 8 September,” explains Selbach. "It takes fresh ideas for us to tackle the challenges of our time!" In addition, visitors can meet many more start-ups at the start-up route at SMM and at the several pitches in hall B6 on 7 September 2022.

This post is sponsored by SMM. For more information, please visit www.smm-hamburg.com

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.